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Scary article about the state of public higher education in PA

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Replies to: Scary article about the state of public higher education in PA

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14911 replies1007 threads Senior Member
    edited December 1
    It says I have reached my article limit for the month but I don't remeber clicking on to The Inquirer.

    PA just bailed out Cheney University.

    Most of the State System colleges are in small towns in the midle of nowhere.
    edited December 1
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79097 replies703 threads Senior Member
    From the article:
    Many students and parents don’t realize when they shop for schools that Pennsylvania’s public colleges — or those that are either fully taxpayer supported or helped with taxpayer funds — are much costlier than many in other states.

    The poor in-state affordability of Pennsylvania public schools (both PASSHE and CSHE) is well known among those here who follow such things and compare with in-state affordability in other states, but is probably a shock to many high school seniors and their parents in Pennsylvania who are looking at much higher debt levels than those in most other states for even the lowest cost in-state public options.

    The article also has a map showing changes in public higher education funding from 2008-2016 (in inflation-adjusted dollars). While only Wyoming and North Dakota (with oil revenue?) had increases, Pennsylvania had the largest decrease (the only one in the -40% to -49% range).
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7854 replies66 threads Senior Member
    It's in the Philadelphia Inquirer dated today if you want to try to google it.

    Basically it says enrollment is sliding at a number of public PA schools, some dangerously so. Coupled with some of the highest costs in the country, there is concern. It also talks about the dilemmas for the state lawmakers since closing a school could have a big economic impact.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79097 replies703 threads Senior Member
    Basically it says enrollment is sliding at a number of public PA schools, some dangerously so. Coupled with some of the highest costs in the country, there is concern. It also talks about the dilemmas for the state lawmakers since closing a school could have a big economic impact.

    The high in-state costs could be a likely reason for enrollment decline -- students who find out-of-state or private options comparably priced may choose them, while other students cannot afford college at all and therefore do not enroll in any college (or enroll for a semester or few before dropping out due to running out of money).

    Closing a school would continue the downward spiral, since it would remove a commutable option from the region, causing a subset of students no longer to be able to attend any college, while some others may be able to attend a different college at higher cost and debt. Of course, then the future economy will be less productive and the tax revenues will be less, since some who could benefit themselves and the tax rolls more if college educated will not be college educated, while others will be mostly focused on debt repayment instead of stimulating the economy through other spending and investment.

    But then keeping a greatly undercapacity school open is financially inefficient, since the fixed costs of maintaining unused capacity (e.g. buildings and tenured faculty) remain, causing the average cost per student to increase.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14911 replies1007 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus
    a commutable option
    that is part of the problem. Most of the declining State System colleges are in remote small towns and are not commutable for many people. West Chester University is in the Philly suburbs and has seen annual increases in enrolment.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79097 replies703 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus
    a commutable option
    that is part of the problem. Most of the declining State System colleges are in remote small towns and are not commutable for many people. West Chester University is in the Philly suburbs and has seen annual increases in enrolment.

    http://www.usa.com/rank/pennsylvania-state--population-density--county-rank.htm indicates that Pennsylvania has high population density in Philadelphia, but much of the state population lives in low population density counties. So having four year public schools in commuting range of everyone in the state may be difficult to do (they may be too small to be financially efficient and offer a full range of majors), while the alternative of providing FA coverage to cover room and board for those out of commuting range would also add cost.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79097 replies703 threads Senior Member
    https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/education-deserts suggests that Pennsylvania does not have an especially high percentage of residents more than a 60 minute drive from a college (including both community colleges and public universities, excluding the most selective schools). However, if it is uneconomic to maintain that many campuses because they are too small, and/or the too small campuses cannot offer a full range of majors to the students, and/or some students at community colleges do not have a four year school in range, that is a problem not captured by the 60 minute drive analysis used here.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8879 replies107 threads Senior Member
    The state of Pennsylvania needs to hire some consultants with expeience in the field of higher education. Let them make recommendations, then turn it over to the politicians & let then mess it up.

    This is as much of a political issue as it is an education issue.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8879 replies107 threads Senior Member
    One does not need to read the article cited in the opening post in this thread.

    Just examine the first three graph charts & the answer is clear as to which schools need to be closed.

    The article shares that US News recently ranked the Pennsylvania public college system as the worst in the nation at #50 due to high costs, student debt, and low ranked community college system.

    Time to bury the dead.
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  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6476 replies204 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2
    Lack of state funding is an issue, but the schools have been allowed to raise tuition and mandatory fees at an alarming rate.

    State Funding per student:
    2007-2008: $4,776
    2016-2017(est): $4,052
    Tuition:
    2007-2008: $5,358
    2017-2018: $7,492
    http://www.passhe.edu/FactCenter/Pages/Financial.aspx
    Mandatory Fees range from $2,202 to $3,346

    Interesting story...

    In 2014, during student orientation at UF, parents would attend parent only sessions, while the students would attend student only session.

    During one of the parent sessions, a speaker talked about the need to raise tuition, closer to Penn State/Michigan levels, to really "improve" things at UF. Lucky for the speaker, the parents didn't have any rotten vegetables to throw...

    In 2014, Penn state funding was about $4,900, Florida was $6,900. UF's tuition was about $6,200 for tuition and Fees a year. Today it's $6,381.
    edited December 2
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2
    Pa has always been expensive (PA resident and Pitt grad) even before funding was cut. Hard to buy into the "woe is me" meme. I've visited all three flagships recently and they look fine. Nice new buildings and dorms everywhere. Both Pitt and PSU are sitting on $4+ billion endowments that continually grow along with tuition and fees. Not sure how much research money they get each year but I bet it's $ Billions.

    It's time to move on. Too many schools in the wrong locations with declining demographics. Pa also has a lot of pensions to payout with tax revenue. More than other, low tuition cost states. Only so much money to go around. Don't get me started on the conditions of our roads and bridges.

    Time to cut and consolidate but I doubt there's the political will to do so.
    edited December 2
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79097 replies703 threads Senior Member
    chmcnm wrote: »
    Time to cut and consolidate but I doubt there's the political will to do so.

    Sounds like if the marginal campuses were closed, there would not be political will to increase in state FA to cover living expenses for those not in commuting range of any public college (no matter how marginal in offerings). So more people in rural Pennsylvania will have no college opportunity, and become even more alienated if their economy declines with fewer ways to escape the decline.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2
    I grew up in rural Pa. I understand the their plight perfectly. The world changes. Demographics change. I bet there are at least 200+ college campuses in Pa or more. Even in my rural area I had 2 private colleges, 1 CC satellite, and 1 PSU satellite within 45 minutes. One of the state flagships was an hour away. A bordering state's flagship was actually closer, maybe 45 minutes.

    The HS's in the area I grew up have half the number of kids from when I attended. Basically one generation ago. It's only going to decline more from today.

    I'm sure some smart people could figure out where to strategically place colleges or satellite campuses to best serve the Commonwealth. It's expensive keeping buildings open, campuses up-to-date, and paying admin for declining enrollment. Throw-in online classes and it gets easier to accomplish. Maybe give vouchers to attend local private colleges if a there's no close state school or CC? For border counties have reciprocity agreements with other states. Other states do it. Why can't Pa?

    Sooner or later the cuts and consolidation will come. It's just a matter of when and how much.
    edited December 2
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1308 replies19 threads Senior Member
    chmcnm wrote: »
    . I've visited all three flagships recently and they look fine. Nice new buildings and dorms everywhere. Both Pitt and PSU are sitting on $4+ billion endowments that continually grow along with tuition and fees.

    Which “three flagships”?

    Neither Pitt nor Penn State (nor Temple) are PSHHE schools. Penn State is included in the article with the PSHHE schools, but the main campus shows an enrollment increase. It’s the satellites that are in the same boat.

    I don’t think that Lock Haven, Clarion, Cal, Ship, Rock, or other actual PSHHE schools have billions in endowments, nor nice new facilities. I haven’t been to them recently, but I’d be surprised if Mont Alto, New Ken, Dubois, etc., have gleaming new structures either.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2
    RichInPitt wrote: »
    chmcnm wrote: »
    . I've visited all three flagships recently and they look fine. Nice new buildings and dorms everywhere. Both Pitt and PSU are sitting on $4+ billion endowments that continually grow along with tuition and fees.

    Which “three flagships”?

    Neither Pitt nor Penn State (nor Temple) are PSHHE schools. Penn State is included in the article with the PSHHE schools, but the main campus shows an enrollment increase. It’s the satellites that are in the same boat.

    I don’t think that Lock Haven, Clarion, Cal, Ship, Rock, or other actual PSHHE schools have billions in endowments, nor nice new facilities. I haven’t been to them recently, but I’d be surprised if Mont Alto, New Ken, Dubois, etc., have gleaming new structures either.

    Pitt, Temple, and PSU are our three state flagships. All three have branch campuses. I don't know about all the PASSHE schools but have you been to Cal U lately? Compared to the 80's it's very nice. I've heard West Chester is very nice also. Keep in-mind these are PASSHE schools, not private schools. I wonder how they compare to SUNY campuses or other states? Probably comparable.


    From Wikipedia..

    California University has recently received state and private grants to rebuild the campus. Since 2000, six new residence halls have been completed, each with private bathrooms. A short drive or bus ride from campus, Cal U has apartment-like housing at the Vulcan Village complex.[2][4]

    The Elmo Natali Student Center, operated by the Student Association, Inc., is the main hub of student activities on campus. The student center hosts the student services offices, commuter center, theater, performance center, campus bookstore, the school's TV and Radio stations, CUTV and WCAL, as well as four distinctive dining areas. The Union was recently renovated as of the summer of 2015, planning to add new dining and study areas for Cal U students.

    The Eberly Science and Technology Center opened in 1999, while the new Duda Hall (which replaced the original Duda World Cultures Building) opened in 2007. Steele Auditorium underwent a major renovation and expansion project, reopening in the Fall of 2007.

    The Heron Hall recreation facility underwent significant renovation and expansion through the Fall and Spring semesters of 2008, opening to student and faculty use on Homecoming Day 2009. The new facility features an elevated running track, cardio equipment, free weight equipment, weight machines, two racquetball courts, a dance studio, two gymnasiums, and a swimming pool.

    By far the largest project at the University was the building of the new Convocation Center. Opened in 2011,[needs update] the building covers 142,000 sq ft (13,200 m2), while seating over 6,000. The building is the largest indoor venue between Morgantown, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The building supplements as the University's current sporting venue, Hamer Hall.
    edited December 2
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Not that it's scientific proof but look at the best college dorms for PA on Niche. Surprising. PASSHE schools are ranked at the top. First 3 out of 5. Pitt #50, CMU #51, and PSU not even ranked.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Added up all the endowments of the PASSHE schools and it's about $365 million dollars. Used Wikipedia.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 245 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I suspect this will be resolved during the next recession or in 2026 when the demographics drop off the table. The birth rate drop from 2008 forward will force changes. Throw in disrupters like online classes too.
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  • CreeklandCreekland 5794 replies90 threads Senior Member
    None of what the article mentions surprises me. I've seen it happening at school over the past 20 years working there. The better students can often get better finances elsewhere. The average students can end up with a bit of debt. PASSHE schools are still by far the #1 most popular destination if taken as a group.

    It also doesn't surprise me to read that our CCs are rated pretty low (from reading a post - don't recall it in the article).

    I think it would work out better to close "losing" schools like Mansfield, but I also suspect not much would improve elsewhere. It's too easy to use any money saved somewhere else.

    There's definitely a reason all three of my lads went to private colleges though to be fair, Pitt ended up second on middle son's final list. Pitt isn't one of our true state schools though, and it ended up second because a private school he liked worked out better financially. Top students often have that happen where I work.

    Heck, even med school at Pitt for an instate student is more expensive than many private schools.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29670 replies58 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2
    Cousin’s son ended up in NY, moved in with NCP to commute to a SUNY because it was much more affordable and doable. Oswego over Kutztown
    edited December 2
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